At fifteen, I decided to become an artist like the grand old masters of the past. I’d seen what they’d done wanted to earn the right to join their ranks. It’d never worked with oil paints before but the challenge to catch up to their level of expertise with minimal tools or tutelage was the ambitious goal I needed to set for myself.
Never mind what style, school, or subject matter—I was in awe of their refined power. They had transcended through the centuries, marked full generations with their expressive caprice. That mark on history was worth emulating, especially if easily interpreted by future spectators.
Language barriers, socioeconomic or cultural differences are overcome by true art. We can understand it, absorb it and discern what comes naturally or is an artificial construct. Every piece is a slice of someone’s story. With enough positive exposure and early art appreciation, paintings can be the imaginative, visual backdrop to wholesome, fulfilled lives where pictures do the talking.
In early 2003, I started my first website, AcademicPainting.com to promote a movement that would diminish the speculative business of art and heighten the social responsibility of artists. As a trade, artists as a whole have suffered (think of the cultural cliché of a starving artist) while a few have become incredibly wealthy—not by advancing artistic expression or engaging with their local communities but by becoming individual brands. Self-exploration or growth is stifled in the pursuit of reducing artworks into a market-place caricature that’s easily identifiable and trading between galleries that the average working-class family simply cannot understand.
Of course, art will always have a necessary commercial side. Raw materials are expensive and with the advent of photographic prints, a fine, hand-painted masterpiece is the sort of classy luxury most people can’t aspire to own. However, disconnected elitists shouldn’t erode the very foundation of art in an attempt to scramble it enough so the “rabble” can’t decipher it, and on the flip side, everyone should be cultured enough to appreciate that which falls out of the “pretty” category.
When an art gallery curator bemoans to me that clients come looking for specific colored paintings to match their furniture store colors—cause the closest most people have gotten to art is prints that they pick up at chain stores—I remember just how much of a service it is to paint for clients. Sometimes what people want clashes with the performative energy of a creator but it’s all about balance and exposing citizens early on to what the human conscience can convey with just tinted minerals.
On this website, you’ll find some of the paintings still in my possession or memorable pieces that managed to get photographed throughout the years. Hard drives have been accidentally deleted, some were so rushed they couldn’t wait to escape my possession. Others, when my political or journalistic life seeped into the artistic sphere, purposely asked for anonymity. I thank all those lovely clients who either wanted to invest early, help me financially, or really wanted a portrait done right.
Some paintings, sadly, have passed through my hands without visual evidence but they were all (from commissioned porcelain plates to house murals), part of the path. After both of my parents (art teachers themselves) declared I had surpassed their level of skill, I still wasn’t satisfied. There are chapters to our style evolution. Some, more meaningful than others. Sometimes, pieces are a reflection of what’s going on or a yearning for something else.
Whatever the case, be it an up-close and personal portrait or moody landscape, it is comforting to know that while we come and go…the artworks will remain forever.